Dedham college fair tinkers with formula
Dedham Square College Fair Block Party
By Sara Feijo
Posted Nov 08, 2013 @ 12:00 PM
DEDHAM — Who said that college fairs must all be held in stuffy gyms or convention centers?
The Dedham Youth Commission and Dedham Square Circle teamed up and held an outdoors college fair with live music and guest appearances on Sunday, Nov. 3.
"We had a really good turnout," Amy Haelsen, executive director of the Dedham Square Circle, said on Tuesday, Nov. 5, about the first year of the fair. "We were thrilled with the turnout and the feedback from the college representatives was really positive. For them, this was something unique."
Hundreds of teens and their families paced through Dedham Square, listening to local band THE KAPPS and talking to representatives from 40 colleges, including Harvard University, Vermont Technical College and University of Chicago.
Dedham Square College Fair Block Party is the brainchild of Robert Blaney, director of the Dedham Youth Commission.
"We wanted to have a college fair block party as a way to include youth of all ages to get involved and learn about colleges," Blaney said Tuesday. "We wanted a fun way for youth to have (a) dialogue and conversation with their parents and friends about college and the future."
Wally the Green Monster, the official Boston Red Sox mascot, greeted guests and danced to "Sweet Caroline," the baseball team’s signature song.
"He really got the crowd excited," Haelsen said of the mascot.
Cat Whitehill, of The Boston Breakers, signed autographs and talked about the importance of going to college and following passions.
"It brought people of all ages," Haelsen said. "It wasn’t just high school kids."
There were also raffle prizes, including t-shirts, sweatshirts and bags donated by the participating colleges.
Blaney and Haelsen started planning the event in August with the help of three Dedham High School students, who were interning with Haelsen over the summer. Next year, however, they will start contacting colleges earlier, Blaney said.
"We planned it in August. Most of the schools thought it was an awesome idea, but most colleges were already booked," Blaney said. "It’s our goal to have it planned out by next spring."
Blaney hopes that 85 to 100 college representatives will participate in next year’s college fair. The event will most likely be held in September to avoid the cold fall days, Blaney said.
"It’s never too young to start thinking about college," Haelsen said. "If you plant the seed really early, kids start thinking about it."
For more information about the youth commission, call 781-326-3120. For more information about Dedham Square Circle, visit dedhamsquarecircle.org.
Staff writer Sara Feijo can be reached at 781-433-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @s_fjo on Twitter. Like The Dedham Transcript on Facebook and follow @DedhamTranscrip on Twitter